The Los Angeles Dodgers enjoyed a historic 2019 regular season by many measures, winning a franchise-record 106 games and solidifying home-field advantage throughout the National League portion of the playoffs.
Looking to return to the World Series for a third consecutive year, the club’s journey began with an intriguing NL Division Series matchup against the Washington Nationals.
In what was a battle between two of the most talented starting rotations in all of baseball, the NLDS fittingly came down to a winner-take-all Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.
A pitching duel between Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg lived up to expectations, as the the two combined to allow just four runs in their outings.
With the Dodgers clinging onto a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth inning, momentum suddenly shifted in favor of the Nationals. Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto hit back-to-back home runs against Clayton Kershaw, helping Washington even up the score at three apiece.
The Nationals went on to pull off the upset, propelled by a game-winning grand slam by Howie Kendrick in the 10th. Kershaw pinned the loss squarely on his shoulders, while Dodgers manager Dave Roberts received flack for some of his in-game maneuvering as well.
Many disagreed with his decision to bring back Kershaw for the eighth inning, while others took exception to Roberts sending Joe Kelly to the mound for the top of the 10th.
The questionable calls led to speculation that the Dodgers could look to make a change at manager this offseason. “I was shocked by it as far as the thought of it,” Roberts said of the possibility.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman noted at his end of the year press conference that there wasn’t even consideration of potentially replacing Roberts with a new manager for the 2020 season.
Regardless of the public reassurances, Roberts hadn’t even contemplated the prospect of being fired. “I wasn’t relieved,” he said. “It wasn’t even a topic of concern for me.”
Even with a handful of curious decisions over the years, Roberts has established himself as one of the more successful managers since taking the helm three years ago. In 2019, he became the first skipper in MLB history to lead his team to division titles in each of his first four full seasons.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events and more!